TADO (Research and Development)

I chose to do the Tado brief as it would give me an opportunity to work on something that I usually stay well away from. To begin I researched a variety of options for example, I looked into creating a character for an OAP lunch club based in Hunters Bar. However, I was drawn towards creating something for children and so began looking at Graves Park Animal Farm. I had visited there late last year, and really enjoyed, although from what I remembered it looked a bit worn out and old.

Initially I looked through the history and the entire park, looking for inspiration, the area can be dated as far back as the 11th Century. Exploring the parks historical background was useful as it connected me on a deeper level to the park itself. Naturally, I used this as an excuse to go and visit the animals several times, but in doing so I developed an understanding of what they need.

Focusing on the Animal Park, I looked at the use of signage. It was clear that there was no permanent signs on the animal enclosures, most had none whilst other had water damaged, laminated, word made ones. These were gross. They were hard to read and were uninviting. Some just had whiteboards fixed the the walls. Also whilst visiting the park, I found that although it is often visited by young children and parents, there was no effort to include the children in the experience. The Animal Park sells food pellets that can be bought by the visitors and fed to certain animals, but not all. There were signs that informed the guests of which they can feed. However, these were also worn out and hard to see.







Once I had collected photos and thought about my experience at the Animal Park, I knew that a mascot would work in their favour. It could be used to guide children around to different areas, used as signage and merchandise. I chose to focus on the signage as I believed this to be an important part of any visit.

I then began to consider their needs for new signs:

  • Easy to change
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Welcoming
  • Stylised


Developing A Character

Firstly before designing a character I wanted to look at how imagery has been used for children in a similar way. I came across a large number of children hospitals that are designed using characters on the walls.


Designed by Bilk Design/Build for the Mattel Children’s hospital was part of their play project. The Hospital Play project is to fill the space with a sense of playfulness essential to development, learning, healing and growth. The project started with a pilot phase, focusing on the 5th floor where they created a magical world for the children, complete with an enchanted forest, whimsical garden and an undersea adventure. The big unveiling was during the hospital’s annual holiday party in December and was a huge hit with the patients and their parents.




I really like the style of the characters used, although they are simple they all still maintain a personality or emotion within their facial expression. The use of clean shapes being put together to create an image builds a friendly, uncomplicated aesthetic that I think allows the viewer to establish a relationship with the designs.


TADO, Peter and Paul, and Rocket recently rebranded the Children’s Hospital Charity in Sheffield. The rebrand is part of the ‘Make it Better’ appeal, which needs to raise £10m by spring 2016 to create a brand new wing and world-class facilities to match the hospital’s world-class care.





Above is the new mascot design created by Tado for the Children’s Hospital. The new design of Theo the bear appears much more friendly and modern. It feels appropriate for younger age groups. I like that the colours used have been kept to a minimum, as well of the various different poses that he can be seen in. I feel that this makes him much more relatable for the children that see him as he is doing normal things in the example above.



I knew that the character should be an animal that can be found at the park itself, this way it already has a connection. The inspiration behind using hand-drawn imagery rather than the more common vector or 3D types, stems from a personal interest in children’s book illustrations, in particular, the Beatrix Potter characters. The approachability and personality that these characters have, creates an instant attraction between the viewer and the illustration. This is something that I believe is important when creating an experience for children.


In the initial stages I sketched a number of detailed character ideas, however, they felt too complex and realistic, I didn’t feel as though they would work for signage or merchandise and so began redesigning more simplistic visuals. I firstly drew small circles which I then simply tried various different facial features and expressions until I had developed a look that I was happy with. The simplicity of the characters allows them to be changed easily, meaning that they become more versatile for what ever purpose they may take.

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Because of the style of the character I decided to create my own type using my own hand writing. This was to keep a child friendly and relaxed aesthetic.

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Presentation with Tado

The presentation session with Tado was useful. It was good to see other peoples work, and see how different everyones outcomes were. I created a presentation that included, research, development and final designs, that showed how I came to the final outcomes at the time. The feedback that everyone received from Tado was really positive and it was the same for me. They liked the style of the character, and commented on the simplicity that each image had. At this point it was not entirely complete. I knew that there was a few changes that needed to be made. The final outcomes used in the presentation were drawn by hand and then scanned in, however, they felt too stiff.

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Example of final characters seen in presentation

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Example of how the character could be used for events held at Graves Park


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